Redistricting Process Draws Criticism from PA Residents

Mar 22, 2020

Pennsylvania's legislative districts were redrawn after a landmark 2018 State Supreme Court Case, but the redistricting process has drawn criticism from some residents.

Amidst accusations of gerrymandering, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered legislators and Governor Tom Wolf to agree to a new electoral map for the Commonwealth in 2018. When that failed, the court redrew the map themselves.

In November 2018, Governor Tom Wolf also put together the Redistricting Reform Commission, which sought feedback from Pennsylvania residents on the redistricting process. In April 2019, the Commission released the feedback collected online and at nine public meetings. Responses ranged from accusations about the process being 'broken' and 'corrupt' to suggestions like removing the legislator from the redistricting process completely.

On a recent On Every Main Street appearance, State Senator Lisa Boscola (D) described the gerrymandering she saw while in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the 135th district:

The power of the pen is only with a handful of people who are the leaders. They help their friends, they want to help the party, so it's not about representing the district or any of it making sense. It's more about, 'let's get more blue.' I was told by my leader, 'you keep [voting with former Governor Tom Ridge] you're going to be redistricted out of your seat,' meaning move it to the other district...Fortunately for me, when my time to run for re-election opened and the redistricting occured, I ran for the senate, so he couldn't get me. But he did do it to three other people who were independent minded, who voted with Ridge on certain issues at times. Not all the time, it just took one or two or three times and they're like, 'well, you're not a true Democrat. We're getting rid of you.'"

National Democratic and Republican groups are setting their sights on Harrisburg as the 2020 election nears. With money flooding into the Commonwealth for the presidential race, advocates believe it could distract voters and politicians from non-partisan redistricting reform.

(Original air-date: 3/16/2020)